By Paul Ndiho
A United Nations envoy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is warning that the M23 rebel group activities in Eastern DRC are threatening to reverse hard-won progress in security and stability in the region.
Public pressure is mounting, and Congolese citizens are calling their government to act. They accuse Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels that wreaked havoc in the eastern part of the country. Rwanda is denying those accusations.
Briefing the Security Council on Wednesday, Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the DRC, and head of MONUSCO, said that the security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is getting out of control.
“Sadly, the security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo deteriorated a lot, notably in reason of the intensification of the March 23 Movement (M23) attacks against the civilian population, the national security forces, and the peacekeepers of the MONUSCO, as well as attacks by ADF, CODECO, and other armed groups’ attacks in Ituri and North Kivu.”
During the most recent attacks, Keita said that the M23 “behaved more like a conventional army than an armed group. The M23 has increasingly sophisticated firepower and equipment, especially in terms of long-range mortar and machine gun firing capabilities, as well as precision fire on aircraft. The threat this represents for the population and the blue helmets mandated to protect it is obvious.
“The intensification of M23 attacks and the resulting regional tensions have unfortunately called into question the positive dynamics recorded in recent years between the DRC and Rwanda.”
Also speaking at the Security Council was Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, the DRC Permanent Representative to the United Nations, he says “Congolese citizens are not convinced that MONUSCO’s highest priority is civilian protection.
“The most important thing to ensure in a war situation under Chapter Seven of the UN charter is civilian protection. In DRC, Congolese citizens are not convinced that MONUSCO’s highest priority is civilian protection. So, MONUSCO must work on this aspect. A strong offensive position is also called for. If MONUSCO cannot impose itself as a dissuasive force on the ground, it will struggle to carry out its mission and civilian protection mandate.”
Earlier this month, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the current Chairman of the East African Community, welcomed the leaders of the seven nations to discuss the security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s violence-torn east. The meeting was attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the President of Burundi, Evariste Ndayishimiye, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Felix Tshisekedi, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.